Mokokchung Times Feature | Mokokchung, July 12


In most nations, youth unemployment and underemployment are important issues, and they are frequently worse in rural areas than in metropolitan regions.
The largest employer in the developing world is small-scale agriculture, which, with the right assistance, may provide a competitive and sustainable alternative to the growth of large-scale, capital-intensive, labor-displacing corporate farming.


This, however, makes the assumption that there is a generation of young people in rural areas who wish to become small farmers, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


According to several studies, secondary school, in particular, leads to the “deskilling” of rural adolescents by neglecting their farming skills and devaluing farming as a profession.


Young people are quitting small farming at alarmingly high rates for a variety of reasons, chief among them being a lack of information, a lack of finance, and unfavorable attitudes towards agriculture. Because of the declining profitability and income in agriculture, young people are not interested in continuing as farmers.


“While the lowest central government job pays is Rs 22,000 a month, income of a farm household from agriculture is less than Rs. 3,800 per month. A small farmer would even prefer a job of a peon in a government office,” said Yogendra Yadav, farm activist and national president of the political party Swaraj India.


According to the most recent Situation Assessment Survey conducted by NSSO (National Sample Survey Organization) on agricultural households, the average monthly income of a farm household in India in 2013 was only Rs.6,426, with only Rs.3,844 going to livestock and cultivation. This indicates that 40% of agricultural households’ incomes came from sources other than farming.


A settled farm by the road near Longjang village, Mokokchung. (MTNews photo)


Local context

Like most of the villages in Mokokchung, Mangmetong is also known for its agriculture, especially of rice and seasonal vegetables. The village of Mangmetong is widely renowned for producing a large amount of tomatoes after Longkhum village.


Mangmetong village council chairman, Yudang Imchen, claims that although the number of farmers in the community has significantly dropped over time, vegetable output has increased while rice farming has been reduced.


There are around 430 residences in the neighbourhood, and 20 to 30 of them have started sizable tomato farms. According to sources, the community exports 1,500–1,600 kg of tomatoes in total to Kohima, Dimapur, and Mokokchung towns annually.


One of the owners of the largest tomato farm in the village, Tialiba, claims that he sells his fruit in Mokokchung town, Kohima, Sungratsü, and Changtongya. He said that, fortunately, none of his tomatoes had gone bad since he receives pre-orders from customers in large quantities even before harvesting his tomatoes, showing that there is greater demand than there is supply.


On the other hand, this output is solely the result of hard effort, favorable weather conditions, and natural resources. Tali claims that he has gotten no funding from any government initiative.


“The horticultural department once gave us seeds, I remember. It mostly didn’t grow after I planted it. Those that grew gave rise to smaller products in size,” he added.
He claims he makes an average of 80,000 Indian rupees a year through selling his tomatoes, which he sells for varying amounts based on the time of year and the availability of the product. “I may go as low as 30 rupees per kg and then up to 50-60 rupees,” he said.


The majority of farmers, especially the paddy farmers in the community, struggle to turn their labor into money, aside from the rice they produce, so they cannot all claim the same success story.


“In the community, there are a lot of graduates without jobs. It’s encouraging to see young people making their place in the world; some of them engage in small-scale handicrafts, while others engage in winter crop farming. Additionally, we never stop urging young people to return to farming because it’s their only means of subsistence,” Yudang said.


Even while the chairman’s statements seem wise, the reality of Nagaland’s withering agricultural society is also reflected in them, despite the fact that the state’s economy is entirely based on it.


The way forward

Nagaland must contribute to and benefit from India’s efforts to expand its market in order to become a global leader in food exports. The state government should prioritize communication and transportation while addressing concerns like agri-production methods, supply chain management, and giving transparency and traceability through technology.


The state needs to transition away from subsistence farming and move towards a better-balanced cultivation of traditional commercial cash crops, specialty value-added vegetables and horticultural products, floriculture, spices, and aromatic and medicinal plants.


As a result of the state’s lack of organized employment opportunities and the need to advance agriculture, the mindset of today’s educated young has to be realigned to encourage them to choose a career in scientific agriculture.


The fact that our farmers continue to practice traditional agriculture while also adapting to change is evidence that modern agriculture offers innovations, profitability and untapped potential, and, perhaps most critically, that the society together with the government must invest in it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *